| 13.9°C Belfast

Crusaders' pandemic food delivery scheme wins royal recognition

Lord Lieutenant hails Belfast club's 'outstanding' work

Close

Delighted: Crusaders treasurer Tommy Whiteside the drive was a team effort

Delighted: Crusaders treasurer Tommy Whiteside the drive was a team effort

Delighted: Crusaders treasurer Tommy Whiteside the drive was a team effort

Crusaders Football Club has been given the royal seal of approval following their hugely successful food delivery service during the initial Covid-19 lockdown earlier this year.

The Danske Bank Premiership side teamed up with community partners in April to deliver 30,000 meals across north Belfast over 12 weeks.

Crues fan and boxing hero Carl Frampton, along with the club's manager Stephen Baxter, helped distribute food parcels to the community.

Meals were prepared at the Roy McDonald Centre at the club's Seaview home on the Shore Road before the ambitious distribution plan went into operation with the help of Crusaders volunteers and partners, including New Beginnings, The Hubb Centre, Mariners, LCAP and the Fuse Project.

Now Lord Lieutenant Fionnuala Jay-O'Boyle CBE, representing Her Majesty, the Queen, has written to Crusaders treasurer Tommy Whiteside, thanking the club for their service during the pandemic.

In the letter Mrs Jay-O'Boyle, who replaced Olympic gold medallist Mary Peters in the role in 2014, even suggested the club could be considered for an award from the Queen.

"It has come to my attention that you and the team and volunteers at Crusaders FC have given outstanding service to the community during the long weeks of this Covid-19 pandemic," she wrote.

"May I place on record my sincere appreciation for everything that all of you have contributed.

"Your dedication, commitment and kindness have truly made this city a more resilient and compassionate place. I sent you my very sincere thanks, good wishes and the hope that you will continue to serve the community in the future."

Mrs Jay-O'Boyle concluded by raising the prospect of the club receiving an award from the Queen for valuable service.

Mr Whiteside thanked the Lord Lieutenant for her letter.

"The football parcel delivery service was a massive success and it was very pleasing to receive a letter on behalf of Her Majesty, the Queen, thanking us for our service to the community," he added.

"It was nice to receive that recognition for all the hard work the volunteers put in.

"The reality is, people have lost their lives during the pandemic and football clubs have been determined to help the community. To distribute 30,000 meals was an incredible effort.

"The letter was addressed to me, but it will be framed and remain a tribute to the fantastic work of the club and its partners."

Belfast Telegraph